Is Art House Our House? The Future

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 04/01/2007 - 22:27.


From Norm Roulet:  I've been observing from afar a neighborhood-centric battle over historic preservation and character. Many activists - responsible neighborhood citizens - in one of our struggling Cleveland neighborhoods - Brooklyn Village - are very upset about Art House vs. Our House. This is a battle of a powerful arts non-profit acting either against or for the community they claim to serve. The question is, are they against or for... or even of this neighborhood?


Art House wants to demolish a valuable historic structure - The Wirth House - to add parking and "green space", as I understand. Above is the front and side of Art House, which is in a Quonset Hut (above), on a very poorly conceived property full of parking, without any real "green space".

The Quonset Hut is next to a poorly updated and somewhat butchered historic mansion called The Wiirth House, for the original owner. I understand Art House owns this structure, and it is a shame it is not better respected, as it is an excellent "ornate Queen Anne". The history of the structure is detailed here, on "Save Our Land."


The Wirth House has one of the most beautiful slate roofs I can imagine. In the picture above you see that on all that roof space there is only one slate missing - this is a perfect roof... at 130 years old. Replacement value would probably be like $100,000. The wood trim is wonderful and the siding even looks good - most is beneath other siding placed on top of the original. The newer siding should be removed and the older siding should be restored. The trim should be restored.


The windows have been replaced with some nasty modern windows - high efficiency replicas of the originals should be milled. Photos should be consulted to replicate the front porch and balcony, if it had one.  The side porch is very nice, as you can see, although modified and unkempt. But the structure seems very solid and easy to restore.

While I can see where Art House may not want to invest in renovating this fine historic property, to demolish it is inexcusable. Either Art House should get aggressive about rallying support to help them renovate Wirth House, or Art House should find someone to do something complimentary with the property - say a B&B. Even if the insides are gutted, the property will fix up into a showplace... the showplace of the community.


To say the property needs better greenspace is an understatement. But Art House seems to be the ones who didn't plan for that on their current site. Every inch of the active property is paved. Next door is a big paved lot for an apartment building. Across the street is a big school lot. I don't know if there are times when people are fighting for spaces but it seems with all those parking spaces some compromise could be found to share. 


 While I can't say I'm blown away by Quonset Huts, the current Art House building does have some charm. It should probably be preserved - I'd suggest they treat the property as a campus, or find a complimentary resident or busines who can share it with them. The Wirth House is worth saving.



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the basic point is...

The basic point is that a lot of the money is now unhealthily concentrated in the wrong places--that is, increasing out of our hands. The FRB controls a lot, the IRS gets the FRB more, the littler banks have a lot, there are concentrations around Washington DC and Columbus OH that hijack our freedoms our control of our destinies.


Computerization may bring more transparency and more immediacy, if ever people decide to take contol of their destinies again. Most are still unaware, or asleep.

Avant garde art

This is a terrific thread.  Oengus, we haven't had the prior pleasure of coherent conversation.
At first (furtive) glance a few of your posts are a bit confusing as they seem simultaneously astute and yet at times, asinine - perhaps just because I haven't assimilated your (writing) style or substance as of yet. 

I feel this is a great community collaboration project, perhaps one worthy of its own Drupal 
COIL (community of interest link  - i.e.  FOSS website encouraging collaborative participation toward transparent transformation).   As I've also alluded to and alliterated toward all along,
we can inspire and encourage enthusiastic, enigmatic participation with exciting, albeit farfetched to a few -  innovative ideas.

(preferably ones facilitative of sustainable economic development locally and regionally, of course!)

I am not in any way at odds

I am not in any way at odds with the purpose of this web page. 


I really have to be edited though, some of us albeit have less of a command of composition than others; I have no troubles with comprehension though.


You and I never have had a conversation, so the use of coherent as a descriptive word is actually describing something that never took place.  You also call for things to happen transparently, as a function of a list of descriptive words that are…well; nothing is really far-fetched or mysterious about the communication on the site.  It certainly is not transparent; the site is really well indexed on the servers.    Type a list of your favorite descriptive words in a search engine and your posts will show up  as link  to REALNEO!   It kind of like sounds good …but are they actually appropriate, wordsmith?  


I think open source software is great, however I got away from IT for now. 


Sustainability as a concept is infantile in its form; it will evolve a time line much longer than any of our existences.  


The few will solve the problems, the minds that can envision the processes that meets that need and also benefits our society in ways that some are simultaneously arguing against.  When I hear people say “ without regard to costs” I look at the costs.  When people say, “ talk out of both sides of your head” I look at both sides.    


I like the way my mind works, actually I love my mind and I can wear a lots of hats and all of them have feathers in them.  I am not looking for recognition or notoriety fame or fortune.  


Did anyone call the county prosecutor and ask him if he actually used the word “philistine”?   Something makes me think Maag added that, did anyone else catch that?


I asked a PR representative at the Western Reserve to look into the Wirth House.  I could call the director of the art house and volunteer to manage the property for them? 

and she would be damn lucky to get me!

Nostalgia and Communities

  Sheryl Hoffman, the lone Brooklyn Centre resident affiliated with Art House has her house on the market and plans to move to Bay Village, now that she has been appointed the executive director position with SPACES. The board members, all non-residents, want to proceed with the demolition of Wirth House, a neighborhood landmark, despite the protests of long-standing residents. Community-based arts organization....right.
This month's Cleveland magazine features the most exclusive neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County.  No surprise, Brooklyn Centre is not listed, but the issue features Jim Rokakis' Swan Song to his boarded-up family home on Garden Court and an analysis of the foreclosure crisis in Cuyahoga County.  Funny thing, nostalgia--Rokakis and all the immigrants to this neighborhood fell/and fall for the myth that you are not a success unless you leave the neighborhood--or, worse, destroy it.  All the rats leave for higher ground.  Well, this rat is staying on the ship. 

Jim's a homeboy

Some readers might not know that Jim's a Brooklyn Centre homeboy--his family's former house is just down on Garden, near "the new" Aldi's, and he was the Ward 15 councilman for years; at the time he took over the council job from Teddy Sliwa, he was still at/just out of Oberlin College. He introduced me to Gloria, and we consider him our marriage broker.

I wouldn't expect our "park neighborhood" to make the CLEVELAND Magazine rankings until we can secede from the City of Cleveland--they are a drag on almost anything, moving as slowly and as secretively as they do, and having such a crippled Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission. Did the article separate Ohio City or Tremont into its own separate entity? (I'll have to go track down the story.)

One foreclosure story

I can not resist the subtitle: A Greek Tragedy.   Main Entry: nos·tal·gia
Pronunciation: nä-'stal-j&, n&- also no-, nO-; n&-'stäl-
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek nostos return home + New Latin -algia; akin to Greek neisthai to return, Old English genesan to survive, Sanskrit nasate he approaches
1 : the state of being homesick : HOMESICKNESS
2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia

Welcome to Foreclosure Central by Erick Trickey with photographs by Jamie Janos in the July 2007 issue of Cleveland Magazine.

Library lady gets a lot of stories from old time residents reminiscing about their childhood in this neighborhood.  This story could have a happier ending.   This neighborhood is the stuff of fantasy for kids.  You can walk or ride your bike almost anywhere and you can experience cultures from around the world. 

One local resident, a woman from Serbia raising two boys with her American husband, bemoaned the treatment she gets from her family and friends who encourage her to move to Solon and other "safe" places.  She is staying.  She said, where can I find such neighbors, who are willing to help you out?  Her streets boasts Ukrainian, African-American, African (Liberia/Ivory Coast/Nigeria), Latino (Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic), Arabic (Palestine/Algeria), Appalachian/Italian/German/Polish-American and mongrel mutts like me living nearby.  She has a view of downtown overlooking Riverside Cemetery. And yes, Tim, she has a real and amazing Garden.

Jamie is a homeboy, too

Laura, I don't know whether you were here when he was, but Jamie Janos the photographer was raised over on Mapledale and qualifies as a Brooklyn Centre homeboy, too. His mom and dad, Gloria and Clarence, both helped us with our two kids, and both were instrumental in keeping the area as nice as it is, using things like the Brooklyn Centre Historical Society, Archwood-Denison Concerned Citizens, numerous house tours and street fairs, and a lot of phone contact. They held the community together and strengthened the network, which is what it's all about.

revelation: I am not Gloria

I just realized I posted the last two "homeboy" comments here as "Gloria Ferris." I guess she was logged in to RealNEO on my machine. I am now myself. I also checked to make sure I was wearing my own undergarments, and everything is cool.


As a married couple, we should only share so much. There have to be boundaries. Log-ins need to be sacrosanct, and we must exercise acute attention to detail when we borrow others' machines. Underwear? No biggie.

Blurry lines

Identity is tricky in cyberspace.  Fidelity to "home" is also tricky.  It's hard to be loyal to your home community if you pay taxes in Bay Village or other exclusive "neighborhoods."   I am glad that Brooklyn Centre (Plain Dealer please note spelling--we do have our pretensions! Also, hello?! City Planning--East Denison School is owned by Concept Schools listed at the State of Ohio as Breeze Inc. How much are you going to pay to buy it back?!) has produced some fine exports.   Now it is time that this "transitional/fragile" (today's PD designation)  part of Cleveland actually keeps those talents in the real neighborhood, which I would define as a place you can actually LIVE, without having to get into a car. I am glad that the mysterious, elusive s/he Gloria/Tim can be found here :)

And to respond to today's BFD query--I am glad that Cleveland is reverting back to Forest.  Maybe, some home-growns will return as well, if only as investors.

nomenclature for insiders

Actually, some refer to those exotic objects of the affection of the county commissioners, the city planning commission,  and their numerous and nearly disenfranchised employees as Timmia and Glorothy.


One huge reason Brooklyn Centre has been mis-tagged by the planners and denied services by its own city and county governments is that it does not buckle, it does not suck up. Since Jim Rokakis left, these creeps have tried to make us a profit center by planned abandonment and meddling, funding inept nonprofits here since the 1980s that have only drained money and solved few problems. We have the Fulton Road Bridge that was grossly mishandled, and continues to be. We had the two premature demolitions on Denison and one on Riverside, and the one on Denison near Wirth House was aided and abetted by the local nonprofit, in defiance of the section 106 requirements, yet nobody has yet been held accountable.


They're wrecking a great neighborhood to make jobs for themselves--it's called "hurt and rescue." The same dumb charade is being carried out on the Breuer Tower. The wreck it and then declare it in need of massive funding. Lots of money disappears down the government and nonprofit ratholes, diverted from its true destination.


The legacy systems are fighting for their lives, and losing. We are winning as we demand fundamental systemic change. The government and the nonprofits are coming apart at the seams; their perfidy is more obvious every day.


This whole society is going to flip in the next few years, and it's just like being back in 1967 again. These are times of marvelous change, and this time, we'll get it right and not allow a Great Society to intervene. The Great Society is what gave us the bloated government and the nonprofits, and these are the same people who have tried to make Brooklyn Centre dysfunctional, so they can fix it. Throw the bums out.


Where did that all come from?

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It

This book comes to mind--because the author gives a dead-on description of the ruins of Detroit (a la the Forest City) and it also captures the lackadaisical attitude of "our people," who purportedly try to make northeast Ohio a better place.  I don't mean to be mean, but today's Brain Gain in the PD is a case in point.  It features a fellow Miami alum who runs, lives in Chardon, and complains about our public schools and public transportation....I won't lay into anyone else, but there is a domino effect that took place here in Brooklyn Centre with Art House.  People distancing themselves from the situation and then leaving us to twist in the wind.  I will say that home-grown Jamie Janos is doing good things for Cleveland.  I am going to take our lousy public transportation to see his latest efforts to document the fine work of Manka Design.  Which begs the question, with so much talent here--Manka/Janos--surely we can get a better design for Art House/the Denison School and Brooklyn Centre's historic cross roads?

Hands-On looks like a buncha bullshit, hands down

I happened to go to the hands-on site, and I got the impression the only thing they really had their hands on was the purse that dispenses the charitable dollar.


 I noticed that they got the $30K Civic Innovation Lab grant, which seldom goes where it ought, and that they advocate fair-weather-friend volunteerism, the kind that starts at 10 AM on a bright sunny weekend, garners the attendee an all-cotton T-shirt, and leaves before sundown, only to return next month, if the weather's nice.


 If I'm being unkind, it's only because I have seen more than 45 years of this sort of civic circle-jerk; there's no excuse for continuing to fund the safe-and-suburban feel-good crowd, other than the fact that they need to have enough to continue to live in Chardon, and care at a distance.

I know 2 people

  I know two GREAT, GIVING people, who live and work and WALK in the City of Cleveland and they were turned down for the Civic Innovation Award...if I told you their names, you would not believe it. 
And for anyone reading this--don't think that we don't want an arts organization in our neighborhood.  We do--Art is great/Artists are great (I live with one, my sister is of THEM!)-- and there are some great people affiliated with Art House.  Some of them just have to stop seeing us in some patronizing "we know what's good for you" attitude, because you're so poor, and you don't understand art,  and you need our help.  Give me something to be excited about.  Not a parking lot and crap art benches. Tim is so right about the civic circle-jerk attitude.  It's definitely a fundraiser's motherlode in this city. And god knows, I can't criticize Art House for tapping into that vein.

Importance of neighborhood identity

Interesting story and good point Tim. Urban neighborhoods, which may be defined many different ways, nonetheless have unique characteristics, and it is at the neighborhood level that planning and decision making must occur. This is contrary to the huge mess that is Cleveland and to the Cle+ regional vision, both which see only a few neighborhoods as important - those with clear power roles in the region. Neighborhoods like yours and mine are completely expendable in such big visioning. To survive and thrive we must take charge of the planning and management of our communities, proactively, and in advance of the big planners - we need to declare our landmarks - we need to take charge of our land-bank properties and make community gardens - we need to create bike paths. There are many great examples of neighborhood activism like guerrilla gardening and taking back the streets in Toronto that would work in Old Brooklyn - I've written about them on Realneo so you should be able to find them searching for Toronto...

Disrupt IT

Open Houses and Reincarnation

  In today's Plain Dealer, John Campanelli examines the psychology of people who visit open houses and quotes our local history champion Craig Bobby.  Craig compares Victorian Houses to works of ART that draws appreciation

Despite all the unnecessary drama, this unfolding story can be a work of art for the neighborhood. Connect the dots A-Z.  Non-profits pairing.  One non-profit loses its founder and will find it hard to regain momentum; another non-profit will need a space that provides for studio, gallery and residences for visiting artists from Europe. Reincarnation.  I want to be hopeful.  I agree with Craig Bobby.

Fix it

  Rereading Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins is a disturbing experience.  The racial tension he portrayed in 1971 has not lessened much today.  And most disturbing of all, he nails our tendency to run away from problems, rather than to fix them:

"Don't tell me the U.S.A. went down the drain because of Leftism, Knotheadism, apostay, pornography, polarization, etcetera etcetera.  All these things may have happened, but what finally tore it was that things stopped working and nobody wanted to be a repairman."

Your car, your community, your family.... if it breaks down, walk away from it and buy another one.  Walk away (actually drive away). It's the American way. Let it all unravel.

Follow the bouncing balls

Hmmm.  Ann Schorgl hired by Art House in February 2007 and now missing from the masthead at Art House a mere  eight months later.  

Visionary Artists

  Dear Art House Board, it is worth viewing this interview with visionary Mattress Factory founder Barbara Luderowski before we head into the next round of the Section 106 review.  Please.

Art House Engineers Report

  When the CDC purchased the complex of buildings at 3117 and 3119 Denison Ave for Art House,  Wirth House was found to be sound. 

Do lies and the misuse of public dollars affect the CAC scoring?

thanks for the report

Since I can't read Art House's CAC grant, it would be premature for me to surmise that they lied on their application. I also don't know who their new Executive Director will be and what opening for saving Wirth House might exist with new leadership. It is unclear as to who is leading this charge to tear down the building, the professional staff (now moved to another organization) or the board.

The other important potential breath of fresh air for nonprofits is the rotation of the board. However this engineer's report would indicate to me that the structure is sound for the most part and needs som TLC to survive and revive. If this TLC cannot be forthcoming from the Art House board and staff, then perhaps they could sell the property and relocate. Has there been a concerted effort by those trying to save the Wirth House to offer alternatives in the neighborhood to the organization for its programs?

Remember what Leonard Cohen said, "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Maybe these findings and staff chenges are just the cracks needed to save this wonderful bit of history.

Zygote not on the LIST

I wonder why Zygote Press did not get funding?  Conflict of interest, because one of their board members is a CAC staff person?  We have conflict of interest issues here (Abe Bruckman sits on the board of the CDC which directs funding to Art House), but no one is denying funding to Art House.

I also wonder-- How many non-profits on this list had the advantage of OWNING a building free and clear--paid for with public funds? (Art House just assumed complete ownership after 5 years)

  I want to know the non-profits, who didn't make the LIST and why?  How many of these non-profits had to use their own resources to ACTUALLY serve the community?  If I ran one of these non-profits, I would be furious.  CAC, please demand accountability.  Art House has a financial obligation to this neighborhood. 

Is it too much to ask for real creativity from an arts organization?

And Susan, to answer your question about "offering" another location.  Art House was given all of the funds (local taxpayers money with no restrictive covenant on the transfer) to assume ownership over Wirth House and the Quonset Hut. 

The director and board at the time did not consider growth and did not consider whether the location really suited their needs at the time.    There should have been a lot more forethought. 

As a community, we are not in a position to offer any more money, than the money that has already been used.  The building can not be moved, as Brian Cummins suggests.  I have no idea, where he thinks he can find the money to move it and we have no plans, period, from Art House or Councilman Cummins to see what the neighborhood looks like in three years, five years, forever.

And for anyone reading this who may be thinking--play nice.  Well, this has been more than a long year of playing nice and no concessions from the arrogant, "holier-than-thou," full-of-themselves arts organization.  (This link shows a historic house on Archwood--not Art House as the Living in Cleveland website would have you believe).

Art House's strategy has been to use our money and wait out the local dust storm, before they go for the final curtain and destroy our local history.  We will be left with the consequences and they frankly could care less, because the poorer we become, the more they qualify for money!  Please, give the Art House board members a piece of your mind. 

We can do better

Today (actually yesterday, now) was a strange day of strange encounters.  I thought to myself, I want to see Vern Hartenburg and Dick Kerber from the Cleveland Metroparks so I can tell them about the potential Wirth House has to be a component in an overall marketing strategy for Brooklyn Centre as a family destination.  And, lo and behold, as I fake jogged through the zoo--I ran into them!  I think I scared them, but I did get to make my point!

And when I got to the pool at Estabrook, I thought, wouldn't it be great if someone who has the ear of Mayor Jackson was there?  And, there was a downtown staffer there--and the pool temperature was just right for lap swimming and he said so, much to the chagrin of some of the other staffers there.  And then I remembered that Mayor Jackson would be downtown.

And, I thought to myself, I want to run into Jeff Buster.  I wonder if he will be downtown taking photographs? Sure enough--he was there.  Now, will some one please believe me? WE , as one community, can do better for all of us.

Now, if I could only run into...Marc Dann :)

Good Karma day

Everything is connected

Disrupt IT


in each of the incidents you mention at least 50% of the "karma" was you - you being active, involved and observant.

This is not luck or chance.  
This is you being alive and caring about what is going on around you.  I was surprised you found me in the dark, crawling around with my camera on the ground in Public Square. 

Our community will not improve, however, until we rid ourselves of corruption and incompetence and instead install persons of intelligence, integrity, and civic mindedness (not developer's pawns) into the important County and City offices.

And we need to create an honest day's work ethic here in NEO too. 

Many civil servants I observe are just dogging it, day by day.  More specifics on this a coming post.

Feeder neighborhoods and Success

  Tim started a very productive dialogue on BFD.  Here is the Father Begin article, too.  We can do better.  Let's start with how we define "poverty" and "success."

chicanery at ArtHouse